Monday, July 29, 2013

What's the Word on Wilson?

Hi all.  I'm in need of some guidance.  Our school is system is moving toward Wilson Fundations for our K-2 classrooms.  I have participated in some trainings and have some, not all of the materials.  I'm trying to wrap my head around using this program knowing that I have not had in depth training and that I do not have all of the resources.
So I have some questions . . .
1.  Have you used Wilson Fundations in your class and are you still using it?  (if not, tell why)
2.  Do you use Wilson with your whole class or do you use it as an intervention?
3.  If you had to outfit your class with materials (for Wilson), from your own pocket, what are the essentials?
4.  Do you follow Wilson's pacing to a T or do you teach some units out of sequence?

If you have experience with this program leave a comment, I would love to hear from you on any (or all) of these questions.
Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great week.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Yes It's Here...The Beginning of the Year

Let me paint you a picture of my past week.  Tuesday and Wednesday I was in State Department Common Core Training.  Thursday I presented at my school district's reading and math conference.  On Friday, I was at my home school for our super long beginning of the year faculty meeting and a visit from our district's head nurse to talk about blood born pathogens.
Meanwhile my poor classroom looked exactly like this . . .
When I finally got back to my class, I busy beed it until dinner time.  Trying all the while to control my ADD tendencies when I have a big project in front of me.  I felt pretty good when I left.  (Sorry I didn't snap a pic.)  My classroom is absolutely not ready, but I finished enough to not have to go in this weekend.  Yippee.
I have just about a week before welcoming my new firsties and their parents.  Hopefully I've got a good start and will not feel too pushed as time gets closer.

Since it's a new year and a fresh start, I have some new goals.  (I try not to set too many, so that I'm not overwhelmed and give up.)
My goals this year are:
Begin using literacy centers during my Daily Five time.
Have my students read more decodable texts that do not have picture support.
Incorporate Wilson Fundations (focusing on my struggling readers during small group).
Go to bed on time (a left over New Year's resolution that I've not managed to accomplish).

Fingers crossed that these goals are doable.  If I have any aha moments as I work toward meeting them, I'll be sure to report back.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Number of the Day for the Year: FREE Math Printables

Happy Monday.  I hope you had a nice weekend.  Mine was pretty packed with some last minute summer break quality time with my little family.
I'm back to work tomorrow and I wanted to share my Number of the Day packet before things started getting too busy.
You can click on the pic below for a FREE copy of this packet.

I'm a big fan of Number of the Day activities.  I created these printables to maintain a simple and fairly consistent layout and at the same time grow in skill level as the year progresses.
I like to use these handouts as morning work 2-3 days a week.  They are great review and really help my students stay sharp with their skills.
Below you can get a closer look at all of the printables in this packet.  They are in the order I use them throughout the year. 
for numbers 1-10
for numbers 1-20
for numbers 10-99
for numbers 10-99
for numbers 10-99
I hope these Number of the Day activities can be of use to you in your class this upcoming school year. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: A Science Mentor Text

Hi Friends.  I'm not going to bring you down by telling you how few days I have left for summer break.  Instead, I'm trying to get my good attitude on.  One way to stop focusing on the end of a summer is to look forward.

Thinking about wonderful books for my class is a nice way to look forward.  Read alouds are really my favorite time of the day.  The students are always so engaged, it is so rewarding to see their connections to fabulous books.
Speaking of fabulous books, I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties weekly Mentor Text Linkup to share a favorite science text.  My choice this week is How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? by Chris Butterworth.

In my class we do work with nutrition at the beginning of the year.  How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? traces the path of food from farm to school and is perfect for this topic.  It gives a closer look at parts of plants, and food/nutrition related vocabulary.  The illustrations are colorful and fun.  
Even better, How Did that Get In My Lunchbox? can do double duty as a resource for your class' study of economics.  Don't you love books that can be brought out again later in the year?  
Since we're on the topic of food, D and I went to an event last night that was very yummy.  It was a fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance which is dedicated to the preservation of southern foodways and recipes.
It was a dinner with five courses featuring five different top chefs in our area.  Date nights are rare and we had a fab time.

But enough about my weekend.  Here's the scoop on my science pick for this week.
For more science text recommendations, be sure to head over to Collaboration Cuties.
Have a great week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Daily Five: Focus on Small Groups

Happy summer everyone!  Mine is winding down and I am getting ready to present at our school system's annual reading and math conference.  I will be sharing about The Daily Five.  My presentation focuses on the recommendations made by authors Gail Boushey and Joan Moser in their book The Daily Five.

However, I have had to make a few adjustments to some of these recommendations so that this literacy structure can work in my classroom.  I think the mark of a good program is that there is some room for flexibility and personal touches.  From my experience, The Daily Five does offer that flexibility.

If you are launching The Daily Five, I have created a set of mini books to support student learning of procedures.  These mini books mirror the language I use on my I charts.  I plan to use them as I introduce each component of The Daily Five or use them as review (if and when students need a refresher on expectations).  If you are interested, click on one of the pics to find out more information.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions let me know.
Have a great week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This Plus That Life's Little Equations: A Math Mentor Text

Hi Friends.  I'm sorry to say I am on the count down to the end of summer break.  I have just about a week and a half left.  But, on the upside, I have some great new books that I am excited to introduce to my first graders.  Books that I found thanks to the mentor recommendations through the Collaboration Cuties' weekly mentor text link up.
This week's link up is for math texts.  My pick is Amy Krouse Rosenthal's This Plus That: Life's Little Equations.
This book is a whimsical introduction to mathematical equations.  The equations create conceptional relationships rather than numeric relationships.  The illustrations are lovely and warm in tone.  This Plus That is a good jumping off point to have students come up with their own little life equation.

This text is a great companion to another one of my favorite math read alouds, 1 + 1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions by David LaRochelle.  I like to read This Plus That at the onset of our class' work with addition.  I read 1 + 1 = 5 and Other Unlikely Additions after the students have a firm grip on the concept of adding.  If you would like to read more about this text and an accompanying activity click here.  These are two fun texts that your students will love.

Here's the scoop on this week's mentor text . . .

For more mentor text recommendations, visit Collaboration Cuties.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy: No Reply Blogger Fix

Hi Friends.  I hope you have a minute, because now is the time to stop and ask yourself a question, am I a no reply blogger
If you have no idea if you are a no reply blogger or not, then you probably are.  Why does it matter if you are a no reply blogger?  Well, basically no one can correspond with you via your blog email until you change your settings off of no reply.
If you change your settings off of no reply, you will (most likely) receive email responses to the comments you leave for other bloggers, which allows for better correspondence opportunities.
Follow the steps below to check if your blogger settings are the way you want them.
I hope these steps are easy and clear.  If you change your settings, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try to email you back to check to see if you have fixed it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bye-Bye Beach Blanket: A Math Mini Book Freebie

Are your students ready for word problems in math the first week of school?  Absolutely!  
Of course depending on your students' age and ability levels, some may need your support more than others.  If you are looking for a fun way to introduce word problems to your students, checkout my FREE mini book below.
Each page features a different way to practice numbers and counting, as well as pattern making and telling time to the hour.  
You can click on the picture for your own free copy.

*My Tips for Word Problems*
1.  Mini books are one of my favorite ways of working my word problems in my first grade class.  We usually work on them together as a whole group for the majority of the year.  I use my document camera and work right along with the students.  (Please, note I give my students lots of think time and work time before I start sharing solutions with them.)
2.  We share ideas and strategies.  I want students to see all the different ways to solve word problem.  When I see variation in student work, (and I always do) students will come up and put their mini book under the doc camera to show and explain how they solved the problem.
3.  The first time we work on word problems I focus on circling the "important" information and underlining the question.  From that point on, that's what I want the students to do.  I stay really consistent with that expectation.
Word problems can be rewarding when you see students applying the various strategies they have been working on in your class.

If you would like to see more ideas and suggestions for teaching word problems or better yet you would like to share something you do with word problems, visit Amber at Synonym Rolls & Antonym Moments.  She is hosting her first linkup and I'm sure she would love for you to join in.

Math Revelation Linky Button

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Language Arts Mentor Text Link Up (Featuring Jon Klassen and Two FREEBIES)

It's the first Sunday of the month and time for Collaboration Cuties' Mentor Text Linkup.  This week's topic is language arts.  My mentor text picks for this week are two books by Jon Klassen:  I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat.
I Want My Hat Back follows Bear as he tries to find his beloved hat.  He asks a series of animals, including  Rabbit (who is actually wearing the missing hat) if they know where his hat is.  All of the animals tell Bear they have not seen his hat.  Eventually Deer asks Bear a question and sparks Bear's memory.  Bear retrieves his hat with a vengeance.
This book is great for sequencing, predictions, and identifying the problem/solution.  Its repetitive phrases are great for early readers.  Bear's hat is also very simple to make.  The kids will love it.

This is Not My Hat is Klassens' follow up to I Want My Hat Back.  It has a similar premise.  The Big Fish's hat goes missing.  But instead of following the Big Fish around, the story focuses on the hat stealing Little Fish.  The Little Fish has a plan to get away with the theft, however the end result is the same as in I Want My Hat Back.  Basically, both books show that crime doesn't pay.

This Is Not My Hat is also perfect for predictions, identifying the problem/solution, as well as retelling. When read together these books offer a fabulous opportunity for comparing and contrasting the characters or the texts.  Below you will find two Venn diagrams to go with these books.  The first compares and contrasts the characters.  The second works with the two books.  The clip art is from KPM Doodles and Melonheadz.
If you would like a free copy of these printables, click on one of the pictures below.

Here's the low down . . .

More mentor text recommendations and activities are at Collaboration.  Be sure to check them out.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What an Honor

Hello Everyone.  Jenna at The Fashionista Teacher recently nominated School Is a Happy Place for a Liebster Award.  Liebster is German and means "dearest," "lovely," "cute," "beloved," and "welcome."  What a great word.  Since blogging is about creating community, this award is a fabulous way to spread the word about new blogs. 
Thanks so much Jenna!

To accept the nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

*My Blog Nominations*

Alisha @ First Grade Follies

Courtney and Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

* Here Are Jenna's Questions for Me*
1. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
2. What is your favorite place to shop? 
3. Where would your dream wedding be?
4.  Why did you start your blog?
5. What is your favorite blog (besides mine)?
 6. Do you have a special talent?
7. What is the last book you read?
8. What's the number one most played song on your itunes?
9. What do you miss most about being a kid?
10. What chore do you hate the most?
11. What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?  

*My Responses*
What is my favorite thing about myself?
I am a dedicated person.  When I commit to something I really give it my all.

What is my favorite place to shop?
On my computer.  I love shopping online.  My favorite store is J. Crew.

Where would my dream wedding be?
A wedding in Hawaii would be wonderful.

Why did I start my blog?
There are several reasons, but mainly I love the classroom ideas on display through teaching blogs.  Now that I have a blog, I love the community that teaching blogs create.  Ideas, stories, thoughts, products, book recommendations, and on and on from educators around the world.

What is my favorite blog?
There are so many, I really hate to pick.  But, if I have to . . . Cara Carroll's First Grade Parade.  I think I found hers first and have been a regular reader ever since.

Do you have a special talent?
I'm not sure this is a talent, but . . . I have taught group fitness classes for just shy of twenty years.  I started my freshman year in college.  I have taught step, kickboxing, strength, and Pilates.

What is the last book I read?
It was Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  I usually go for funny and light-hearted.

What is my number one most played song on my itunes?
Where the Streets Have No Name by U2

What do I miss most about being a kid?
I miss how slowly time seemed to go by.  Now time seems to move at warp speed.

What chore do I hate the most?
I hate laundry.  It is never caught up.  It is like a finish line that just keeps moving.

What is my Favorite time of day, day of the week, month of the year?
My favorite time of the day is probably dinner time.  I love that my family sits down together without other distractions.
My favorite day of the week is Friday.  Most of the work for the week is behind me.
My favorite month is June.  Where I live the weather is usually nice, but not too hot and there is still plenty of summer to go.

Now for 11 Random Facts About Me
1.  I teach at the school where I attended.  I am actually the third generation from my family to attend the school.
2.  I really like older homes.  My house was built in the 1940's.
3.  I do a good deal of volunteer work through my church, mainly feeding the needy in my community.
4.  I am married to my 6th grade crush.
5.  I am a fan of meaningful quotes.  My favorite is "Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt
6.  My birthday is on New Year's Day.
7.  A graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in history.
8.  My favorite style icon is Audrey Hepburn.
9.  I'm a perfectionist.  But I'm trying to change my ways.
10.  I really love children's lit.  I think my favorite children's book is Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion.
11.  When I was 8 years old a neighboring city hosted The Miss USA Pageant.  I wrote a letter for a contest and was picked to be a "little sister" to one of the contestants.  I got to go to several events and wear a very official sash.  I was in girly girl heaven.

*My 11 Questions for My Nominees*
1.  Why did you start bogging?
2.  If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
3.  What story does your family always tell about you?
4.  What is your favorite song?
5.  What is your favorite outdoor activity?
6.  You have a ten minute speech to give at a high school, what is it about?
7.  Where do you like to vacation?
8.  What is one goal you have made for yourself this year?
9.  Do you have a pet(s)?  If so, what type do you have?
10.  Are you married?  Do you have children?
11.  What do you "know now" that you wish you "knew then"?

Thanks again to Jenna.  I'm am very honored to be included in your nominees.  Be sure to check out my nominees to get to know some more great bloggers.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bright Beginnings and Freebie Friday

Happy Friday!  I hope you have had a fun Fourth of July.  With the Fourth past and school supplies making an appearance at my Target, I know that the start of school is just around the corner.
One thing I can check off my list for the beginning of school is literacy centers.  I have been working on my back to school center packet to help my new little firsties review and hit the ground running.
This packet is a companion to my Bright Beginnings Match Centers.  It includes work with initial sounds, upper case/lower case matching, sight words, color words, syllables, ABC order, rhyming words and more.  It is available at Teachers Pay Teacher.  Click on the picture above to check it out.
Like I mentioned before, I plan on using it at the beginning of the year with my first graders.  But, I also think it would be great in Kindergarten, more spread out through the year.
My daughter, who is about to start kindergarten, was my product tester.  She and I worked together on the activities.  We had a good time.  While my heart aches when I think about her getting bigger, it is kind of fun that she is in the age range of my kiddos at school.
A is matching upper case and lower case letters from Bright Beginnings.

Below you will find a FREEBIE from this packet, Armadillo ABC's.  It is an ABC order activity using sight words from the Fry word list.  If you would like a copy of it, click on the picture below.

I hope you can use this center.  Be sure to go by Teaching Blog Addict to check out more free items that are being offered during this week's Freebie Friday. 
Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Calendar Math

Happy Fourth of July!  We are having a rainy Fourth here, which is very unusual.  We took  A  to her first big fireworks this weekend and our family picnic is moving ahead (rain or shine) this evening.  The rain has not completely stopped our fun.

Today is also Throwback Thursday at The First Grade Parade.  I wanted to share a past post about calendar set up in my class.  Most summers I spend time reevaluating how calendar math is working and what I might like to change.  I really love looking at what other teachers are doing with their calendar area.  Read on to see a glimpse of mine.
* * *This is a portion of the original post from April 22, 2013* * *
I'm really excited about Flying Into First Grade's Let's Get Acquainted Linky topic.  It is:
My Classroom (Share Three Favorite Areas)
I really love seeing picture of other classrooms.  I always get so many ideas.  I like really organized spaces that emphasize function.  Below you will find three areas that get a lot of use in my first grade classroom.

Number 1-Calendar

Thanks for stopping by and reading.  For more Fourth of July Throwback fun visit The First Grade Parade.  Have a great day!